First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Reality check on Trump's poll numbers: They've been incredibly consistent
Campaigning in Florida yesterday, Donald Trump declared that the poll numbers showing him trailing to Hillary Clinton are "rigged" against him. "The system is corrupt and it's rigged and it's broken, and we're going to change it," he said in St. Augustine, FL. But here's a reality check on Trump's poll numbers: They've been consistent over the past year. In addition to trailing Clinton by double digits or close to it in the national NBC/WSJ poll since Sept. 2015 (with the exceptions of May, June, and July of this year), Trump's unfavorable numbers among key demographic groups have barely moved since Jan. 2016 in the NBC/WSJ poll:
Women: THEN: 68%, NOW: 62%
Latinos: THEN: 69%, NOW: 80%
African Americans: THEN: 81%, NOW: 87%
Those ages 18-34: THEN: 72%, NOW: 70%
Independents: THEN: 52%, NOW: 61%
Suburban voters: THEN: 55%, NOW: 59%
Folks, it is hard to win a presidential race -- let alone lead in national polls -- when six in 10 women, seven in 10 young voters, eight in 10 Latinos, and nearly nine in 10 African Americans have an unfavorable view of you, even against another unpopular opponent. As The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein wrote back in January, before the Iowa and New Hampshire contests took place, "Republicans are growing comfortable with the prospect of Trump winning the party nomination, even as resistance to him is solidifying among the voters he would need to win the general election." If the polls are rigged against Trump, they've been rigged for a year.
Florida, Florida, Florida
Turning to today's campaign activity, both Trump and Clinton are in Florida, which is a must-win state for the Republican nominee. There is no real path to victory for Trump without Florida's 29 electoral votes. And since the first debate, we haven't seen a single poll that meets our methodological standards that shows Trump ahead in the Sunshine State. The RealClearPolitics average shows Clinton leading in Florida by four points, and to put that into context, Obama won the state by just a single percentage point in 2012.
Obamacare benchmark premiums to increase by average of 25%
In a normal year, with a normal GOP nominee, this Obamacare story would be driving today's news. The Associated Press: "Premiums will go up sharply next year under President Barack Obama's health care law, and many consumers will be down to just one insurer, the administration confirmed Monday. That's sure to stoke another 'Obamacare' controversy days before a presidential election. Before taxpayer-provided subsidies, premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan will increase an average of 25 percent across the 39 states served by the federally run online market, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services. Some states will see much bigger jumps, others less." But the Huffington Post notes some important context here: "The law's financial assistance will protect millions of lower-income families from these premium increases, and others can find relief by switching to different plans next year to save money." Also, it's notable that premiums really didn't increase in the program's first couple of years. "The average benchmark plan price rose 2 percent from 2014 to 2015, and 7 percent from 2015 to this year."
Toomey refuses to say if he's voting for Trump:
NBC's Alex Jaffe: "Sen. Pat Toomey again refused to say whether he would vote for Donald Trump, making him the only vulnerable Republican senator to keep his constituents in the dark on where he stands on the issue. 'I don't think my constituents care that much how one person is going to vote,' Toomey said in response to the third ask by the moderator at Monday night's Pennsylvania Senate debate… [Democratic opponent Katie] McGinty seized on his dodge during Monday's night debate as evidence of a lack of 'character' on Toomey's part with a soundbite ready-made for an attack ad — until Toomey cleverly cut her off midway. 'In politics, the definition of courage and character is doing what's right even if it costs you votes, and senator you have failed that test,' McGinty said."
First Read's downballot race of the day
Nevada Senate: The retirement of Nevada heavyweight Harry Reid set up a major clash between Republican Rep. Joe Heck and Democratic former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. The race is the best chance for Republicans to pick up a Democratic-held seat, but in the age of Trump, the state's high Hispanic population and swing-state status are causing some headaches for Heck, a physician and Brigadier General in the Army Reserves.
Countdown to Election Day: 13 days